This morning I got to do the one thing we all love to do. Visit the tax office to settle a dispute. Not a dispute really, just to let them know we are a non-profit and as such are not liable for the property tax bill the ministry just received for a vehicle recently purchased.
As I entered the building I made a serious tactical error if I wanted to get out of there quickly. I held the door for a little old lady, followed her onto the elevator and let her exit first. I was supposed to meet Patty at 11:45 for lunch and had this timed just right.
One clerk available. And a little old lady with a much more complicated situation than mine. The available clerk, and several who were tied up all apologized several times for my wait. The little old lady apologized. I just made my standard statement when in such situations. “Patience is a virtue, and virtue, in Greek, meant power. So patience is power!”
Mark 5:30…And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?
Luke 6:19…And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.
The word virtue in both verses (and in Luke 8:46) is the Greek “Dunamis” and is translated 77 times in the Bible as “Power.” Its a word that we get english words like “Dynamo” and “Dynamite” from.
So if the old proverb is to be believed, Patience is Power. The phrase “Patience is a virtue” is not from the Bible. It probably dates back to the Canterbury Tales, or further back to a poem called “Piers Plowman”, but it has gained traction as a saying. And as the meaning of words changes in English, (“Let” used to mean stop something, now it means the opposite) so the meaning of this proverb can be thought of as fluid.
I’ve appropriated the proverb and gave it my spin from the Greek New Testament, because it rings true to me. Patience is power. I could have gotten upset, fumed a bit, let my anger well up at the AUDACITY of this little old lady stealing precious minutes from me I could be spending with my wife. Or I could practice patience.
James 1:2-4…My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
2 Peter 1:5-8…And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Patience matures us (perfect work). Power is the first thing we are told to add to our faith. From power comes knowledge and temperance (self control). These lead us to patience which bears the fruit of godliness, kindness and love.
I’ve learned through 22 years of ministry to be patient. The last 3 as a Missionary especially. It took 15 months to raise the funds for our building fund, 80% coming in the last two months of the fund drive. My goal was to be under roof to feed Thanksgiving last November. Then to be breaking ground in March and done by June 1. It’s June 4. The HVAC Mechanic just visited to day to measure and work up an estimate. We may break ground by September. We may not. And along the way there will be many more setbacks, delays and seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
But patience is power. The power to trust God. The power to bring even more to Him in prayer. The power to act like a grown up and wait my turn.
By the way, I left the Tax office at 11:46, one minute after I was to meet Patty. I left my phone at home and she was going to return it at lunch, so I couldn’t call her to tell her I’d be about 20 minutes late. She got to practice patience and experience its power too.
Practice patience today.